It’s a myth propagated by the corporate gun lobby mostly in the figure of Wayne LaPierre of the NRA that a “good guy with a gun” can stop a “bad guy with a gun”. This presupposes that the only folks with guns who mean evil intent are the “bad guys”. Let’s look at this mythical thinking in the first linked article above:
That argument was put to the test last weekend in Las Vegas, Nevada, when two “bad guys” with guns, Jerad Miller and his wife, Amanda, shot and killed two police officers. To be clear, the Milers were, in the eyes of the NRA, “good guys” until that exact moment when they used those guns to do “bad” things.
After the cold-blooded shooting, the Millers headed to a Wallmart for a final confrontation with police. Inside, there was a good guy — Joseph Wilcox, a 31-year old Las Vegas resident with a concealed carry permit and a gun in hand. Rather than running away, he took out his weapon and approached Jerad Miller from behind. It was a heroic and selfless act and one for which Wilcox deserves nothing but praise.
But it was an act that cost Wilcox his life.
Unbeknownst to him, there was more than one shooter, and when Wilcox approached Jerad Miller, he was shot in the back and killed by Amanda Miller.
While the NRA claims that a more armed population can prevent these types of mass killings, we know this is not true — and a tragic death like Wilcox’s is a far more likely outcome.
How does the gun lobby respond to this recent shooting in a Grand Forks, North Dakota Walmart store? From the article:
The gunman in Tuesday’s shooting had two passengers in the car when he pulled up to the Wal-Mart in south Grand Forks, Grand Forks Police Department spokesman said Wednesday.
Police Lt. Derik Zimmel said the two people stayed in the car while Marcell Travon Willis, 21, entered the Wal-Mart around 1 a.m. Within seconds, Willis allegedly shot two Wal-Mart employees, including 70-year-old Gregory Weiland, who died as a result.
Lisa Braun, 47, was injured from a gunshot wound. She was still in “satisfactory condition” as of 8:15 a.m. Wednesday, according to an Altru Health System news release.
Willis then shot at a third, unidentified Wal-Mart employee and missed before turning the gun on himself and ending his own life.
Sgt. David Dobrydney, a base spokesman, said he couldn’t yet release any information about Willis due to Air Force regulations.
So far we don’t know why the shooter did this and then took his own life with the gun. Most likely we will learn more in the coming investigation. But I think it’s safe to say that the shooter was a “law abiding” gun owner and therefore one of those “good guys” with a gun that the gun lobby is talking about.
The words uttered by Mr. LaPierre dropped like a thud on the American public. The inane response to a terrible national tragic shooting just seemed to puny and ridiculous and just plain incredulous. But this must be what the corporate gun lobby and its’ minions actually believe. They are wrong but they continue believing in myths. The Coalition to Stop Gun Violence took on this myth in an article about a poster boy for the “good guy” with a gun myth. They write about a case of an Alabama “good guy” with a gun who shot another in a presumed robbery but got away with the shooting. From the article:
Who Will Protect Us from the “Good Guys”?
Folks like Wayne LaPierre and Cam Edwards and “More Guns, Less Crime” Author John Lott might think our country is better off when criminals under indictment for rape are allowed to own guns and carry them in public. Rational Americans might disagree, and ask, “If these are your ‘good guys,’ who are your ‘bad guys’?” Perhaps then-NRA President Karl T. Frederick had this quandary in mind when he told Congress in 1934, “I do not believe in the general promiscuous toting of guns. I think it should be sharply restricted and only under licenses.”
It also begs the question of how many other NRA “Armed Citizens” have criminal records and histories of violence, a topic which Media Matters recently explored. As Timothy Johnson of Media Matters pointed out, the NRA’s glorification of individuals like Marlo Ellis “demonstrates how the show must scrape the bottom of the barrel to find actual cases of self-defense with a gun for its audience.”
The thing is, when all of those “good guys” with guns are walking around in public with their guns as they now are everywhere, how do we know what will happen? How will we know when one of them snaps or is suicidal and takes the lives of innocent people? How can we tell these “good guys” from the “bad guys”? And when we allow people with no permits or training to now carry guns as we have done in several states, we will open up our communities to more of these kind of shootings. It is inevitable.
And why wouldn’t the “bad guys”- and by that term I assume the gun lobby means criminals and domestic abusers and others who are otherwise prohibited from owning and carrying guns- also then carry their illegally or, actually, legally purchased guns in public? And what I mean by legally purchased is the policy of allowing private sellers to sell guns at gun shows, through Internet sites ( Armslist.com) on Facebook, in daily newspapers and/or flea markets and other venues. It’s legal because we have not passed laws to require those gun sales by private sellers to undergo background checks.
Which brings me to my point. We have no idea if someone obtained their gun with a background check or not. And in states that don’t require background checks before granting carry licenses, we surely can’t guarantee that the person with the gun is law abiding. Without background checks on all gun sales, the person carrying with a license that doesn’t require a background check and a gun purchased without a background check could be the next Jared Loughner or the next Radcliffe Haughton.
The public has common sense when it comes to background checks. 92% of Americans (and including gun owners) believe all gun sales should come with a background check. Of course. Why in the world did anyone believe it was a good idea in the first place to not require background checks for all gun sales? It slipped through the cracks of the Brady Law when it passed in 1993 in part because then there were only occasional private sellers. Now is different. Private sellers often have exhibits of guns similar to those being sold down the aisle by licensed dealers where background checks are required. And a whole new market has opened up on the internet at places like Armslist.com, even on Facebook and in ads in local newspapers for just a few. Yesterday there were 3 guns for sale by private sellers in my home town newspaper. How about yours? I assume they will be sold with no background check. In my state of Minnesota today there are multiple listings of guns for sale by private sellers- presumably with no background check. In fact, this website called gunlistings.com makes it very easy to find gun ads in papers all over the country. Interestingly enough, there is advice for the buyer and the seller here:
For ensured safety when buying or selling your guns you should meet at a FFL dealer and conduct the transaction through the gun dealer. (transfer fees vary by dealer)
It is up to the buyer and seller to determine if transfering the gun through an FFL is required by law.
If you choose to conduct a transaction privately always meet in a public place!
Always consult federal, state, and local laws before conducting firearms transactions.
At least that advice was given. We have no idea if it’s taken. And we can see how easy it is to find guns for sale from private sellers.
Consider the reason we need a national law. Some states require background checks on all or most gun sales and some don’t. Naturally those who don’t want to go through a background check know where to go to get their guns. And when they are allowed to buy as many as they want, it doesn’t take too much imagination to understand what happens with those guns.
We need to finish the job started in 1993 and require all gun sales to go through Brady background checks. The Brady Campaign’s Finish The Job campaign asks you to sign a petition to send to Congress to pass the background check law they refused to pass after the horrific Sandy Hook school shooting. If we don’t pass this law, we are not doing our job to protect our communities from devastating gun violence. We also know that even this will not stop all shootings or all “bad guys” from getting guns. There are straw purchases, stolen guns, bad apple gun dealers and lots of trafficking. But it is one way to make us safer. Saving lives is what this is all about and if we can save lives, why wouldn’t we? And the bigger question is why the corporate gun lobby is so opposed to keeping guns out of the hands of the “bad guys” instead of a laser focus on arming who they believe to be the “good guys”.
It’s time for a change of conversation and a change to our gun las. We need action and we need those who support background checks to speak out and bring others with them. Lives depend on it. We are better than this as a country.